'Concrete pills' get Jake Robertson through race with broken wrist
Those African-based Kiwi middle-distance runners are tough – and maybe a bit mad.
Nick Willis upstaged the Robertson brothers, Zane and Jake, at the Auckland Track Challenge last night winning out their much-anticipated 5000m showdown and breaking the New Zealand resident record, set by Dick Quax in 1993.
But, in his first race in New Zealand since moving to Kenya with his brother eight years ago for training, Jake produced the story of the night when he revealed he ran a pace-making role with a broken wrist.
What's more, the 25-year-old only realised the severity of his injury, sustained in a training fall in a Kenyan forest, after receiving treatment the day before the race.
Before then, as brother Zane bluntly put it, Jake survived on "concrete pills".
"I'm stoked that I was able to compete here – and even run," Jake said casually.
"I currently have a broken hand.
"I had an x-ray yesterday [Wednesday] which confirmed it. I've been walking around for two weeks without a cast. The doctor said now there's no point in having one. The ligament is the only thing that's damaged now. There's a piece of bone missing. It got torn off.
"I think it's more of a New Zealand thing. Maybe my father inspired me. He once did the same. It was quite painful for two weeks and then I had to get on with it. Now I don't feel it anymore.
"It's good to be out here and good to see such an atmosphere. I just wanted to help the kids be inspired."
Zane, the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 5000m bronze medallist, suggested he was too not fully fit – citing a calf injury picked up while smashing the New Zealand half-marathon record in Japan three weeks ago.
His ailment was nothing compared to his brother, though.
"He's been walking around the last two weeks with basically the ligament detached from the bone," Zane said.
"He fell down on his knee and hand in the forest when he was running in Kenya.'
"As athletes we build up a pain resistance.
"I guess he's been taking those concrete pills. In Africa we don't really go to the hospital for anything."
Even Willis was surprised with how well Jake ran before he slipped back in the field once his duties were complete.
"Jake broken his wrist two weeks ago," Willis said.
"He didn't have that fully diagnosed until he got off the plane yesterday. He became basically a pace maker. He probably looked the best of all of us."
The three men will go head to head at the nationals in Wellington next weekend – with Jake again set to assume pace-making duties.
Last night, though, his only concern was finding someone to open a well-earned beer.
"I just feel it when I open bottle caps," he said.
"Someone else can open mine."